Towers of Power - Taperworm, Mr. DNA, and Parasite

Description: The Towers of Power is a unique trail system located in Renton Washington. The most popular trail here is Tapeworm which manages to pack 2.25 miles of trail into just a couple of acres. The trail twists and turns and kind of looks like someones intestines, hence the name. Other trails here are Mr. DNA, Parasite and Crop Circles. The trails are in tree cover, but the mail loop (the heavy line in the map) is on land that has been cleared. This is land owned by the Puget Power and there are power lines overhead in some areas, hence the name Towers of Power. You would not go here for the scenery, but the trails make up for the lack of scenery. After riding Tapeworm you'll say "Wow, I don't think I'll find a trail like that anywhere else".

The terrain is rolling ups and down. Tapeworm is designed to be challenging and maximizes the local ups and downs. After riding Mr. DNA and Tapeworm I'm usually exhausted. While riding Tapeworm I seem to spend most of my time hanging on to trees while I catch my breath.

These are "grey trails", meaning that they are not offically open to bicycling. Even though it is not an offically open trail system it is still one of the more popular MTB destinations.

Location: Near Phillip Arnold Park in Renton. About 40 minutes from Mount Si High School (baring heavy traffic on I-405).
Distance: About 5 miles.
Difficulty: Intermediate
The Trail: My usual route is to first ride Mr. DNA then head over to Tapeworm. After Tapeworm I'll head over to either the little slalom course or over to Parasite.

Mr. DNA goes downhill, weaves around a bit (don't forget to duck for the low branches) and then finishes with a short uphill (that I have never been able to ride all the way to the top). A good warm-up.

Tapeworm is a one-way trail. It is a one-way trail because it was designed that way and the designers don't want the corners to get rounded out by bikes traveling the other way. Tapeworm used to be much skinnier and tighter than it is now. Be kind to the trail and don't widen the many corners. And above all, do not cut across any corners. One interesting feature of Tapeworm is that someone could be 10 minutes ahead of you on the trail and yet be only 6 feet away from you. Don't forget to duck for the low branches across the trail (I'm always hitting my helmet on the branches).

There are several obstacles along the trail on Tapeworm. The biggest one is a stack of flat boulders that you can try to jump over. There used to be some teeter-totters, but they have been lost due to disrepair.

After Tapeworm I either head over to the mini slalom trail or over to Parasite. Parasite is a trail that features lots of logs that need to be jumped over. Unfortunately, after riding Tapeworm I never have any legs left to be doing lots of log jumping. It's a fun trail if you have the legs left to do the jumping necessary to ride it.

Notes: There is water at Philip Arnold Park so you can top of your water bladder before you head to the trails. It is only a drinking fountain that doesn't spit out much water so it is best to fill up on water before you get to the park.

There are toilet facilities at the park but they tend to be messy.

When parking at the trailheads do not leave valuables in the car.

Getting There: The worst part of this ride is getting to Philip Arnold Park. Renton is horrible to drive through. One-way streets turn into two-way streets. Two-way streets turn into one-way streets. Barriers are put up on the two-way streets to keep you from turning left. It is difficult to get anywhere. The first time I tried to get to Philip Arnold Park I ended up driving around Renton trying to get onto a street that would take me over I-405 to get to the park. If you miss a turn in the directions you may have a difficult time getting back on track.

The following directions give the same route as the highlighted map below. The text directions are a little more clear than the generated directions with the highlighted map. As long as you make the left onto Mills Avenue South and then make the left onto South 3rd Street to go over I-405 then all will be good.

From I-405 South:
Exit 4 (Renton - Enumclaw).
Exit onto Sunset Boulevard and follow it to Bronson Way North (2nd stoplight),
turn right onto Bronson Way and keep scooting over to the left-hand lane
a new left lane will be created just before Mills Avenue South, move into this new left lane, this is the lane that turns onto Mills Avenue South
turn left onto Mills Avenue South (immediately before Bronson Auto Service) Mills Ave. S is a skinny little road right after a bridge and right at the point where Bronson Way goes from a 2-way to a 1-way street,
Continue on Mills Avenue South past the fire department until you cross RR tracks,
then take a left onto South 3rd Street
Go up the hill (15% grade approaching the overpass) over I-405 to Renton Avenue South,
turn right on Renton Ave. S and go uphill on a narrow residential street to South 7th Street,
turn left on 7th Street to the stop sign on top of the hill.
Turn right on Beacon Way S.
Turn right at the parking lot.

     
Directions to Philip Arnold Park:   Overview directions and map
    Renton detail directions and map
     
Maps: Trail Map 647 KB